SFMTA launches "Google Bus" pilot program map, promises increased enforcement

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Protesters dressed in clown costumes blockade a tech shuttle April 1, 2014. The pilot program now seems to be moving forward.
Photo by Rebecca Bowe

The Google Bus plan is now rolling forward. Last night [Mon/9] the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency released a map of shuttle stops to be studied in the contentious commuter shuttle pilot program, and proposed new means of cracking down on shuttle scofflaws.

The released map shows a peppering of dots representing what the SFMTA is calling "pilot network zones," essentialy bus stops to be shared by Muni and commuter shuttles alike. The SFMTA will study those pilot network zones, measure impacts to Muni shuttles, and the zones will soon be marked up with signage denoting them as a commuter shuttle stops. 

The site of the first and many subsequent Google Bus protests, Valencia and 24th street, is included among the proposed stops. Many of those protesters highlighted the lack of enforcement around the shuttle stops highlighted by a glaring set of numbers: Since January, San Francisco issued over 13,000 citations against double-parkers in red zones, but only 45 went to commuter shuttles. The shuttles use of those stops were, at the time (and even now) illegal, protesters said. 

Carli Paine, the head of the commuter shuttle pilot program at SFMTA, told us now there'll be increased enforcement.

"Implementation will include placards on the vehicles, signage at the zones that are in the pilot network, and additional enforcement," she confirmed for us, in an email. The SFMTA also launched a special web form for lodging complaints about the commuter shuttles.

SFMTA surveyed tech companies, citizens, and government to decide which stops to study. Per SFMTA:

In February, the SFMTA collected requests from shuttle service providers and resident suggestions on what stops should be included in the pilot through an interactive website and open houses.  We reviewed requests from shuttle service providers and suggestions from residents to develop a pilot network of zones that is a combination of:

Zones requested by shuttle service providers

Zones requested by residents

Alternative zones within a few blocks of requested zone locations

New white zones in locations where demand is high but sharing with Muni would likely disrupt Muni service for inclusion in the pilot network

Zones with Muni service every 10 minutes or less, most zones along Muni’s busiest routes and lines, and flag stops (stops that are in the street, away from the curb) on the bicycle network were not included in the proposed pilot network of shared bus zones.

The website that SFMTA referred to crowdsourced feedback from San Franciscans, an interactive map where anyone could place pinpoints proposing shuttle stops. Some jokers pinned proposed shuttle stops in the San Francisco Bay and the ocean. Some had reasoned arguments against corporate shuttles. "There should be a designed [sic] bus stop for the big corporate buses and not public bus stops," read one post. Others were more flip, like the push-pin on Alcatraz, reading "Make 'em swim!" 

 

SFMTA's Proposed Commuter Shuttle Network 140609 by Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

 

 

Above we've embedded the commuter shuttle map. 

Interestingly, the hotly contested tax that the SFMTA planned to levy against commuter shuttle companies of $1 per stop, per day may be revised. 

"The permit and use fee will be updated based on actual project costs and actual stop events proposed as part of the permitting process," the SFMTA stated in an email announcement of the new commuter shuttle project map. "The SFMTA Board will hold a public hearing to adopt the adjusted fee, if different from earlier calculations."

The Guardian obtained a cost breakdown of the shuttle program from the SFMTA, and the numbers do seem to be fairly rough.

 

Cost Breakdown of SFMTA "Google Bus" commuter shuttle pilot program by Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

 

 

Above we've embedded the cost estimate of the commuter shuttle program, obtained through a public records request under the Sunshine Ordinance.

The shuttle pilot program proposed to fund 312 hours of work for transit planners and engineers each, annually. Notably, 4,000 hours are slated for a parking control officer, and 520 for a senior parking control officer annually. The two officers together are estimated to cost $300,000 annually. Double that estimate, as the project is slated to run two years. 

The SFMTA board will meet to approve any new fees for the program during its July 15 meeting. There will also be a public SFMTA engineering meeting on June 20 (10am, City Hall, Room 416) to discuss changes to the commuter shuttle pilot program.

The map also denotes sidewalk white zones for shuttle use for commuter hours, between 6-10am and 4-8pm. 

The shuttle pilot program will officially begin August 1. It's still an open question what effect, if any, the current lawsuit concerning environmental review of the shuttle stops will have on the program.